This isn't porn.

My experiences as a makeup artist primarily entailed three things:

1) Making attractive people more attractive.
2) Making other people really unattractive.
3) Fending off creepy people, ignoring obnoxious remarks, and listening to actors talk shit.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s been an incredibly fun job and the means by which I’ve been introduced to the majority of my favorite places and people in California (plus, craft services allows you to eat enough to hibernate). I’ve been lucky enough to go to college and/or have relations with individuals who are either entering or already established in the film industry, so I haven’t had too many awkward or uncomfortable set experiences. These consistently kind environments have led me to be overly naïve about prospective job opportunities, which leads me to the story of how I accidentally worked in adult film.

Having known artists who found some light work via Model Mayhem, I opted to make a profile on the website. In the event you’ve never heard of it–via some obscure former high school classmate posting “modeling”/nude beach shots from their e-portfolios–Model Mayhem is (at best) the Wal-mart of modeling and photography. But, I was nineteen and needed money for forties of Mickey’s and sequined bras for raves, so I put up some shots of work I’d done and waited to be contacted.

What’s the worst that could happen? I thought. It’s not like I’m advertising to have my photo actually taken.

Shortly thereafter, I received a message from a woman who knew a man—I know, it was a very solid connection—who needed a makeup artist for a “bisexual art film.” It sounded slightly sketchy, but they offered to pay me quite a bit more than the less-than-minimum-wage that I was used to, so I agreed to the job. Plus, the director called and offered to buy me all of my favorite snacks. I have never turned down free snacks.

Yes, at this point in the story, I am essentially the equivalent of a child walking into a van because somebody has offered her a bag of candy.

Because I was completely carless the first two years of college, I needed a ride; the director’s daughter offered to pick me up. As I waited for her, I wondered banally—everything was banal when I was nineteen and life’s biggest problem was my neglectful college boyfriend—if I would be kidnapped. I left a note for my housemate Heidi letting her know that if I didn’t call by 8pm, I was probably dead or something.

I should have known something was slightly amiss as soon as I entered the car: a girl at least five years my senior—let’s call her Stephanie*—sat blasting Miley Cyrus. I asked her if she was interested in film. Stephanie simply popped in a Jonas Brothers CD. A few moments later, I tried again and asked if she had grown up in southern California. Her reply was either Taylor Swift or Demi Lovato; they’re practically the same, though I have a feeling Stephanie would probably have thrown me out onto the freeway for saying so.

We arrived at the set, a small house in a residential neighborhood, around six. I had worked at plenty of homes for films before, so I thought nothing of it. I was greeted by the director, a very large Hispanic man with an effeminate voice and kind eyes, as well as a few other members of the crew.

Sure enough, all of my snacks were in order. Milk Duds in hand, I felt assured that this was a legitimate film set.

I sat down with the first actor, a young and cute twenty-something white guy with a great tan named Robert. As I did his makeup, we discussed his blossoming career, prospective jobs, and life story—the exact same conversation I have had with just about every performer I’ve ever worked on—and we got along very well. When I was just about finished, he took off his shirt, glanced at his chest, and asked me if I could cover up a few blemishes on it because his “nude scene” was coming up. I was a bit taken aback, but then assumed this was just a normal aspect of this “art film.” I concealed the spots and the next actor was sent to me.

Jessica, an absurdly gorgeous brunette, sat at my station in a robe as her boyfriend held her hand. I repeated the same sort of conversation as before and she informed me that she wanted a spot on MTV, had just found an agent, and was finally taking care of herself. For an eighteen year old, she seemed incredibly mature and intelligent, but I found it a bit strange that she kept reassuring her significant other that she was “doing the best thing for the both of them,” as though he thought her career was a potentially bad thing. Again, I sort of just glazed over and gave her what I was told: dark, smokey shadow with glossy lips and smooth hair.

The assistant director called Jessica into the bedroom where Robert and the rest of the crew had been waiting to shoot. She smiled and took off her robe, revealing a Victoria’s Secret-esque figure in Victoria’s Secret-esque lingerie. I realized they would be performing a romantic sort of scene and, again, moved on.

My third actor was Kyle: a bit older, very attractive black fellow who seemed to be a seasoned, confident performer. Prior to even sitting down, he removed his shirt and pointed out a few spots he needed me to cover up. I jokingly asked if he also had a shirtless scene. The conversation went as follows:

Kyle: “Of course I do.”

Me: “You… have a nude scene, too?”

Kyle (raising eyebrows): “Erhm, we all have nude scenes.”

I paused, undoubtedly looking bewildered.

Kyle: “Sam, what kind of set did they tell you this was?”

And so it dawned on me: I was working on a fucking porn. I instantly felt incredibly uncomfortable, though I have been a watcher and strong supporter of porn’s existence since an age that is probably a bit weird to be a porn-viewer.

But why wouldn’t they tell me that it was a porn? Had I missed something in the description? Did they even realize they had tricked me? Before I had a chance to comprehend the fact that I now would have my name attached to an adult film, I was called into the bedroom for touch-ups.

I entered, finally knowing what I had gotten myself into and therefore prepared for anything. Jessica stood in the corner with her bathrobe on as Robert lay on a light green futon with a towel over his junk.

“We need lipstick removal,” said the cinematographer.

I shot a concerned look at him, assuming he had meant I would need to take lipstick off of this dude’s dick. I slowly took a wet wipe out of my pack and approached the futon, unable to simply tell them that, no, I did not want to go near this guy’s business and shame on all of them for being sneaky about this all. My face must have looked confused as my hand started reaching for the towel because Robert abruptly said, “Whoa, no girl, not there—it’s on my neck.”

And suddenly, I looked like the pervert.

My indignant self-righteousness practically imploded within me. After wiping the sticky mess (the lip gloss, that is) from this guy’s Adam’s apple, I managed to fight through the rest of the set by chowing down on all the snacks. I convinced a friend to pick me up so I didn’t have to share another twenty minute ride with Radio Disney’s oldest fan and jetted out of there.

A few months later, I was with Heidi—oddly enough, in a sex shop—and received a call from the director asking if I wanted to be on the IMDB page for the film. Though I was tempted to say yes, I primarily opted out because of the name of it. I won’t tell you what the movie was called, but it had all the charm of titles like Naughty Nurses 7 or Big Bad Daddies in Paris, if you catch my drift.

Basically, if I had just asked what the goddamned script was called, I could’ve avoided the whole experience.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t kidnapped and it makes a good story, so I suppose it was worth it in the end—especially for the snacks, all of which I took home with me.